AUSTIN, Texas - Austin's Office of Police Oversight (OPO) is concerned over how the Austin Police Department's Internal Affairs is handling protest complaints. OPO also says it's concerned with some Internal Affairs practices, including disqualifying complaints because they didn't identify the officer involved.
It has asked APD to investigate more than 200 complaints submitted against officers related to the racial injustice protests that happened in the summer of 2020. So far, APD's Internal Affairs has investigated 27 complaints. Many of those were related to use-of-force incidents.
Recommendations OPO has for APD include investigating all complaints despite where they originate, requiring all sworn personnel to have body-worn cameras powered on for the entirety of their shift, and providing semi-annual comprehensive crowd control training.
In response to OPO's initial analysis of protest complaints, the Austin Justice Coalition's Senior Police Director Sukyi McMahon released a statement saying, "Their reasons for not investigating complaints were paltry, and frankly demonstrate the through-line of subpar policing that is consistent in the department."
McMahon adds, "They refused to investigate complaints because complainants couldn’t identify the subject officer, but investigators were provided with sufficient information to determine which officer was responsible for harming the complainant. The least amount of investigatory effort would have revealed this."
Austin Justice Coalition's Executive Director Chas Moore also released a statement saying, "IA says the disqualified complaints were reviewed by APD’s Response to Resistance Team or that IA had conducted an ‘initial assessment’ of them. This, after the OPO had done its own preliminary review and submitted the complaint to IA for actions that constituted full investigations."
"IA’s dismissal of OPO’s preliminary review and of the OPO’s objections to their reasons for disqualifying the complaints shows a deep disregard for police oversight in our city. The work of the OPO and its handling of the summer protest complaints is vital to addressing police misconduct, yet it’s being thwarted by IA," Moore says.